Expect More Side-Load Trucks in C-Store Lots

Beverage companies want more maneuverable delivery vehicles.

September 03, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Wholesalers are reducing conventional tractor and trailer fleets in favor of sideload and bulk trailers and are converting to 26-foot, non-CDL van bodies with liftgates, reports FleetOwner.com.

Changing consumer habits have prompted a shift in deliveries to convenience stores. For the fifth consecutive week leading into August, off-premise dollar sales growth of beer, flavored malt beverages and cider in convenience stores outpaced sales in larger channels, such as supermarkets, according to Nielsen. This marks a reversal of early pandemic trends when consumers, fearing shortages, stocked up on their favorite items from large-format stores.

“The bounce back of the c-store, which of course is beer’s most important channel, is another sign that consumers have settled into a ‘next’ normal,” said Danelle Kosmal, vice president of beverage alcohol practice, Nielsen.

As a result, Mickey Truck Bodies, a manufacturer in High Point, North Carolina, reports that customers are requesting smaller sideload units, such as 6.5- and 8.5-bay bodies, for better maneuverability in convenience-store parking areas.

“In addition, some customers, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola and Keurig Dr Pepper, are using different types of van bodies, or straight trucks, with liftgates for c-store deliveries,” said Tom Arland, president, Mickey. “Not only do these smaller units improve delivery efficiency to small store formats, the fact that they do not require a CDL license helps address the issue of driver shortages.”

The continued popularity of categories, such as energy drinks and hard seltzers, is also driving deliveries to c-stores, the company noted.

“We’re selling a lot of non-CDL 6-bay mini bodies for the energy/secondary brands,” said Todd Holm, southeast regional sales manager, Mickey. “They are very easy to maneuver in city locations where space is tight. Energy brands like Bang, Monster and Red Bull continue to sell well. So are the hard seltzers like Truly and White Claw, and now Coca-Cola jumping in with coffee-flavored sodas.”

“KDP is actually reducing its conventional tractor and trailer fleet in favor of sideload and bulk trailers and converting to 26-ft. non-CDL van bodies with liftgates,” said Dane Meyer, southwest/west sales manager, Mickey. “Wholesalers are looking at non-CDL straight trucks with liftgates, on-board charging systems for electric delivery carts, roof-mounted solar charge systems for gates and electric pallet delivery devices. Efficiency, productivity and profitability will be the top priorities for companies delivering beverages.”